Vietnamese fishermen sink boat to escape arrest

CHUKAI, Aug 18 -- Vietnamese fishermen are willing to sink their boats to avoid being detained by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), after being caught trespassing and stealing our marine resources.

Pahang MMEA director Marine First Admiral Amran Daud said the tactic was detected to have been committed by the crew aboard one of the nine Vietnamese boats detained under Ops Kuda Laut in the east coast waters on Aug 16 and 17.

He said seven boats were detained at a distance of 68 to 147 nautical miles from Kuala Kemaman while two more boat were detained in Kelantan, yesterday evening.

“While towing the boat to the Kemaman Maritime jetty, two Vietnamese fishermen sabotaged the boat until it leaked and caused the boat to sink at a distance of 30 nautical miles from Kuala Kemaman at 3.34 am today. However, three Malaysian Maritime enforcement officers along with two fishermen on board the boat were rescued.

“We believe such an action was taken by the Vietnamese fishermen to dispose of evidence. They had previously committed similar stunts,” he said at a press conference at the Kemaman Maritime Zone Base here, today.

He added that the four boats also used local boat registration numbers for the purpose of misleading the authorities and avoiding arrest.

“Also seized were 15 tonnes of marine catch, 20,000 litres of diesel and fishing equipment worth RM10 million, not including the sunken boat. All the seizures and arrests were brought to the Kemaman Maritime Zone Jetty and Kelantan Maritime Jetty for further investigations,” he said.

Amran said 111 fishermen, including the boat skipper nabbed, aged between 17 and 55, did not have any valid identity documents.

According to records, since June 26 until now, 45 foreign fishing boats with 502 crews, including the skippers have been detained under Ops Kuda Laut.

He said MMEA would not compromise with foreign fishermen who encroached on the country’s waters and harvested seafood without permission.

“Patrolling and monitoring will continue to be enhanced from time to time, to prevent any activities that violate maritime laws,” he said.

-- Source: BERNAMA

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